Despite growing attention to the problem of obesogenic environments, there has not been a comprehensive review evaluating the food environment-diet relationship. This study aims to evaluate this relationship in the current literature, focusing specifically on the method of exposure assessment (GIS, survey, or store audit). This study also explores 5 dimensions of "food access" (availability, accessibility, affordability, accommodation, acceptability) using a conceptual definition proposed by Penchansky and Thomas (1981). Articles were retrieved through a systematic keyword search in Web of Science and supplemented by the reference lists of included studies. Thirty-eight studies were reviewed and categorized by the exposure assessment method and the conceptual dimensions of access it captured. GIS-based measures were the most common measures, but were less consistently associated with diet than other measures. Few studies examined dimensions of affordability, accommodation, and acceptability. Because GIS-based measures on their own may not capture important non-geographic dimensions of access, a set of recommendations for future researchers is outlined. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Increasingly, studies are focusing on the role the local food environment plays in residents' ability to purchase affordable, healthy and nutritious foods. In a food desert, an area devoid of a supermarket, access to healthy food is limited. We conducted a systematic review of studies that focused on food access and food desert research in the United States. The 31 studies identified utilized 9 measures to assess food access. Results from these studies can be summarized primarily into four major statements. Findings from other countries offer insight into ways, in which future research, policy development and program implementation in the US may continue to be explored. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
We completed a systematic search of the epidemiologic literature on built environment and obesity and identified 63 relevant papers, which were then evaluated for the quality of between-study evidence. We were able to classify studies into one of two primary approaches for defining place and corresponding geographic areas of influence: those based on contextual effects derived from shared pre-determined administrative units and those based on individually unique geographic buffers. The 22 contextual papers evaluated 80 relations, 38 of which did not achieve statistical significance. The 15 buffer papers evaluated 40 relations, 24 of which did not achieve statistical significance. There was very little between-study similarity in methods in both types of approaches, which prevented estimation of pooled effects. The great heterogeneity across studies limits what can be learned from this body of evidence. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
To evaluate the growing literature on the built environment and physical activity/obesity, we conducted a review of review papers. Through a systematic search, we identified 36 reviews that met the inclusion criteria and evaluated these reviews based on key information provided, review methodology, and specificity regarding measurement. We also analyzed research gaps and areas of improvement identified by previous reviews and propose a research agenda. Future studies should develop complex conceptual and statistical models that include moderators and mediators, improve objective and perceived measures of the built environment, and strengthen evidence of causality through better research designs. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This study examined relationships among individual demographics, environmental features (e.g., fast food outlet density, park land use) of residential neighborhoods and activity spaces, and weight-related behaviors (diet, physical activity). Participants' movement was tracked for 7 days using global positioning systems (GPS). Two activity space measures (one standard deviation ellipse, daily path area) were derived from the GPS data. Activity spaces were generally larger than residential neighborhoods; environmental features of residential neighborhoods and activity spaces were weakly associated; and some activity space environmental features were related to dietary behaviors. Activity spaces may provide new insights into environmental influences on obesity-related behaviors. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Previous reviews on children, adolescents and adults have reported consistent relationships between several physical environmental characteristics and physical activity (PA). This systematic review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the literature concerning the relationship between the physical environment and PA in older adults. A systematic literature search resulted in the inclusion of 31 articles. Results were inconsistent but most of the studied environmental characteristics were reported not to be related to PA. More studies in different contexts utilizing longitudinal designs, standardized, reliable and validated PA and environmental measurements and investigating possible moderating effects are definitely warranted. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This study explored whether social contacts are an underlying mechanism behind the relationship between green space and health. We measured social contacts and health in 10,089 residents of the Netherlands and calculated the percentage of green within I and a 3 km radius around the postal code coordinates for each individual's address. After adjustment for socio-economic and demographic characteristics, less green space in people's living environment coincided with feelings of loneliness and with perceived shortage of social support. Loneliness and perceived shortage of social support partly mediated the relation between green space and health. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Given that recent literature reviews on physical activity in urban parks deliberately excluded qualitative findings, we reviewed qualitative research on this topic informed by a published classification scheme based on quantitative research. Twenty-one studies met our inclusion criteria. These studies relied mainly on semi-structured interviews with individuals or in focus groups; only five studies involved in situ observation. Our synthesis aligns with previous quantitative research showing that attributes including safety, aesthetics, amenities, maintenance, and proximity are important for encouraging park use. Furthermore, our synthesis of qualitative research suggests that perceptions of the social environment entwine inextricably with perceptions of the physical environment. If so, physical attributes of parks as well as perceptions of these attributes (formed in relation to broader social contexts) may influence physical activity patterns. Both qualitative and quantitative methods provide useful information for interpreting such patterns, and in particular, when designing and assessing interventions intended to improve the amount and intensity of physical activity. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Recent studies have relied on GPS tracking to assess exposure to environmental characteristics over daily life schedules. Combining GPS and GIS allows for advances in environmental exposure assessment. However, biases related to selective daily mobility preclude assessment of environmental effects, to the extent that these studies may represent a step backward in terms of assessment of causal effects. A solution may be to integrate the Public health / Nutrition approach and the Transportation approach to GPS studies, so as to combine a GPS and accelerometer data collection with an electronic mobility survey. Correcting exposure measures and improving study designs with this approach may permit mitigating biases related to selective daily mobility. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This paper presents the findings from a review of the theoretical and empirical literature on the links between crime and fear of crime, the social and built environment, and health and wellbeing. A pragmatic approach was employed, with iterative stages of searching and synthesis. This produced a holistic causal framework of pathways to guide future research. The framework emphasises that crime and fear of crime may have substantial impacts on wellbeing, but the pathways are often highly indirect, mediated by environmental factors, difficult to disentangle and not always in the expected direction. The built environment, for example, may affect health via its impacts on health behaviours; via its effects on crime and fear of crime; or via the social environment. The framework also helps to identify unexpected factors which may affect intervention success, such as the risk of adverse effects from crime prevention interventions as a result of raising awareness of crime. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A considerable body of literature has investigated how environmental exposures affect health through various pathways. These studies have generally adopted a common approach to define environmental exposures, focusing on the local residential environment, using census tracts or postcodes to delimit exposures. However, use of such administrative units may not be appropriate to evaluate contextual effects on health because they are generally not a 'true' representation of the environments to which individuals are exposed. Recent work has suggested that advances may be made if an activity-space approach is adopted. The present paper investigates how various disciplines may contribute to the refinement of the concept of activity space for use in health research. In particular we draw on seminal work in time geography, which provides a framework to describe individual behavior in space and time, and can help the conceptualization of activity space. In addition we review work in environmental psychology and social networks research, which provides insights on how people and places interact and offers new theories for improving the spatial definition of contextual exposures. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Disparities in access to healthy foods have been identified particularly in the United States. Fewer studies have measured the effects these disparities have on diet-related health outcomes. This study measured the association between the presence of food establishments and obesity among 1295 adults living in the southern region of the United States. The prevalence of obesity was lower in areas that had supermarkets and higher in area with small grocery stores or fast food restaurants. Our findings are consistent with other Studies showing that types of food stores and restaurants influence food choices and, subsequently, diet-related health outcomes. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Compared with previous generations, children spend less time playing outdoors and have lower participation rates in active transport. Many studies have identified lack of neighbourhood safety as a potential barrier to children's physical activity. This review describes concerns regarding 'stranger danger' and road safety, and discusses empirical studies that examine associations between neighbourhood safety and physical activity among youth. Variability of perceptions of safety between parents and youth are examined; 'social traps' are identified; and physical/social environmental interventions aimed at improving neighbourhood safety are discussed. A research agenda is suggested for further study of perceived and objective measures of neighbourhood safety and their associations with children's physical activity. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This paper presents an enhancement of the two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method for measuring spatial accessibility, addressing the problem of uniform access within the catchment by applying weights to different travel time zones to account for distance decay. The enhancement is proved to be another special case of the gravity model. When applying this enhanced 2SFCA (E2SFCA) to measure the spatial access to primary care physicians in a study area in northern Illinois, we find that it reveals spatial accessibility pattern that is more consistent with intuition and delineates more spatially explicit health professional shortage areas. It is easy to implement in GIS and straightforward to interpret. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The current study draws on data from the 2007 and 2009 Citizenship Survey collected in England (n=17,572) to explore the role of social capital in building community resilience and health, using the bonding, bridging, and linking social capital framework of Szreter and Woolcock (2004). The results show that the indicators of the different types of social capital are only weakly interrelated, suggesting that they capture different aspects of the social environment. In line with the expectations, most indicators of bonding, bridging, and linking social capital were significantly associated with neighbourhood deprivation and self-reported health. In particular bonding and bridging social cohesion, civic participation, heterogeneous socio-economic relationships, and political efficacy and trust appeared important for community health after controlling for neighbourhood deprivation. However, no support was found for the hypothesis that the different aspects help buffer against the detrimental influences of neighbourhood deprivation. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Public open spaces such as parks and green spaces are key built environment elements within neighbourhoods for encouraging a variety of physical activity behaviours. Over the past decade, there has been a burgeoning number of active living research studies examining the influence of public open space on physical activity. However, the evidence shows mixed associations between different aspects of public open space (e.g., proximity, size, quality) and physical activity. These inconsistencies hinder the development of specific evidence-based guidelines for urban designers and policy-makers for (re) designing public open space to encourage physical activity. This paper aims to move this research agenda forward, by identifying key conceptual and methodological issues that may contribute to inconsistencies in research examining relations between public open space and physical activity. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved,
This review summarises the evidence for inequalities in community and consumer nutrition environments from ten previous review articles, and also assesses the evidence for the effect of the community and consumer nutrition environments on dietary intake. There is evidence for inequalities in food access in the US but trends are less apparent in other developed countries. There is a trend for greater access and availability to healthy and less healthy foods relating to better and poorer dietary outcomes respectively. Trends for price show that higher prices of healthy foods are associated with better dietary outcomes. More nuanced measures of the food environment, including multidimensional and individualised approaches, would enhance the state of the evidence and help inform future interventions. Crown Copyright (C) 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
This paper aims to serve as a four-part introductory primer on the "go-along" qualitative interview methodology for studying the health issues of neighborhood or local-area contexts. First, I describe the purpose and different types of implementation of go-alongs. Second, I discuss its advantages for studying how place may matter for health (particularly in terms of the participants) and how it may facilitate researchers' understandings of local knowledge as well as the social and physical context. Third, I consider the method's strengths and limitations for population health research on neighborhoods and local areas. Fourth and finally, I discuss how go-alongs may be used in tandem with other qualitative and quantitative approaches for multi-method research. Informing this discussion are my own experiences with a particular type of go-along interview-"walk-along" interviews-during a study of social capital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin neighborhoods. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Analysis of English census data revealed a positive association between self-reported health and living near the coast. However that analysis was based on cross-sectional data and was unable to control for potential selection effects (e.g. generally healthier, personality types moving to coastal locations). In the current study we have used English panel data to explore the relationship between the proximity to the coast and indicators of generic and mental health for the same individuals over time. This allowed us to control for both time-invariant factors such as personality and compare the strength of any relationship to that of other relationships (e.g. employment vs. unemployment). In support of cross-sectional analysis, individuals reported significantly better general health and mental health when living nearer the coast, controlling for both individual (e.g. employment status) and area (e.g. green space) level factors. No coastal effect on life satisfaction was found. Although individual level coastal proximity effects for general health and mental health were small, their cumulative impact at the community level may be meaningful for policy makers. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to objectively measure features of the built environment that may influence adults' physical activity, which is an important determinant of chronic disease. We describe how a previously developed index of walkability was operationalised in an Australian context, using available spatial data. The index was used to generate a stratified sampling frame for the selection of households from 32 communities for the PLACE (Physical Activity in Localities and Community Environments) study. GIS data have the potential to be used to construct measures of environmental attributes and to develop indices of walkability for cities, regions or local communities. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.